Apr 23 2007

Consciousness among the atoms

Published by at 11:03 pm under Philosophical? You call that philosophical?

Like millions of others, I’m fascinated by consciousness. And by the scale of existence that runs from the Planck length to the size of the universe.

Of late I’ve been lulling myself off to sleep with speculations about where those speculations might be taking place.

One thing I’m reasonably confident of (at the moment) is that all these thoughts are occurring in the space between my ears. (Of course the minute anyone else reads these words, they’ll start echoing between their ears too.)

But what is the nature of this little corner of the universe? Apparently there are about 100 billion neurons* in the average adult brain, and 150,000 kms of myelinated nerve fibres leading to 0.15 quadrillion synapses.

So, like countless others before me, I’ve tried to imagine where this ghost in the machine might be.

Does it exist at the atomic level, or is that too small and is it something closer to a molecular phenomenon?

Or are atoms much too big and is it swimming around down at the quantum level where ‘stuff’ isn’t stuff so much as regions where there is a relatively (but not absolutely) higher probability of something ‘being’?

And while I can accept that consciousness has certain highly specific preconditions for its formation/existence (eg an organism with sufficient density of consciousness-friendly structures), I think that it must be something that is as apart from and yet bound to the physical as a dancer is to a dance…

I think of the universe as being a unity (as opposed to a big space with little bits of separate stuff in it), and it entrances me to think of self-awareness whispering through interstices that are at least as fine as neural synapses. When you think of the size of the universe (or try to!) the scale difference between it and the aforementioned gaps, suggests to me that consciousness is an exceedingly fine-grained feature of the place.

Maybe we’re somewhere in those gaps – or in the electro-chemical potential difference on either side… or maybe we’re down there at the planck length, popping in and out of potentiality itself…

Good night moon!

*approximately the same as the number of stars in our galaxy…

Some people a lot smarter than me…
Quantum Consciousness
piero scaruffi


Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Naturally Accommodate Consciousness but Quantum Mechanics Can

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